This is priority legislation from Governor Northam, carried by Majority Leader Saslaw in the Senate (SB890) and Speaker Filler-Corn in the House (HB1414), to finally properly fund desperately needed transportation infrastructure investments.
The bill creates the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority to “promote, sustain, and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth and to increase ridership of such service by connecting population centers in Virginia with passenger and commuter rail service and increasing availability of such service.”
The bill adds new safety rules, including: (i) making it illegal to possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, (ii) requiring all passengers in a vehicle to wear safety belts, (iii) prohibiting the use of handheld personal communication devices, (iv) establishing a speed photo monitoring program in highway safety corridors, and (v) allowing localities to lower the speed limit below 25 miles per hour in business and residential districts.
The bill increases the state gasoline tax, phased in. In the Senate version, the tax is 20.2 cents/gallon July 1, 2020 and 24.2 after July 1, 2021, indexing to CPI-U after 2022. The House version has an additional tax increase to 28.2 July 22, and indexes to CPI after 2023.
Virginia Fairness in Lending Act
This bill to rein in out of control payday lenders is patroned in the House (HB789) by Delegate Bagby, who is also chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, and in the Senate (SB421) by Democratic Caucus Chair Senator Locke.
Currently, only payday loans and car-title loans are monitored by the State Corporation Commission, while open-end lines of credit and installment loans made online are not.
As a result, Virginians pay up to three times as much as borrowers in other states for the same types of loans. The legislation proposed has been passed in states like Ohio and Colorado in recent years.
The bill would require all lenders be licensed in Virginia and registered with the State Corporation Commission, which would track how many loans are made and many other details about the transactions
The bill would require that all loans have affordable payments (maximum interest rate of 36%, and limits amount of fees and charges), and enough time to repay (minimum four months repayment, maximum of 24 months).
Closes loophole where Virginia lenders partner with out-of-state banks to get around Virginia’s lending laws.